Sept. 1, 1997
In Like Flinn

“We distributed the first news release on May 6 to 125 targeted media, including wire services and top daily newspapers. The news release focused on the Flinn family’s appeal to military authorities to reconsider her court-martial and succinctly outlined how her situation had been mishandled from the beginning. …

“All along, we downplayed the fact that the Flinn family had hired PR [public relations] counsel. We positioned our role to the media as such: We were assisting with calls be-cause the family was absolutely overwhelmed and unprepared to handle them on their own. Only two news organizations–Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times–even reported during the crisis that a PR firm had been hired.”–From “Bombs Away: Piloting Kelly Flinn’s PR Campaign,” by Jenny Duffey and Judith Webb, in the August 1997 issue of Tactics, journal of the Public Relations Society of America. The authors were hired to handle PR for USAF 1st Lt. Kelly Flinn, who accepted a general discharge in lieu of court-martial for adultery, lying under oath, disobeying a direct order, and fraternization.

Skunk at the Garden Party

“Whenever Clinton Administration officials talk about enlargement, the whole issue is framed as if NATO is a nice club of democratic nations. Some of us recall, however, that NATO is a military alliance based on the willingness of its members to send soldiers to die to protect one another.”–Edward Luttwak, a senior analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as quoted by James Kitfield in the July 1997 issue of National Journal.

This Comes Next

“Terrorists can also alter their mode of attack. For instance, some commanders in the Middle East are concerned that terrorists will switch to weapons that can be fired over perimeter defenses from hidden locations. One US commander was concerned that terrorists could launch indirect fire attacks from several sectors of the surrounding city. Such attacks are difficult to defend against because these weapons can be set up, fired, and moved from concealed areas very quickly. US security officials at a base in Europe said because the host nation­controlled base perimeter is easily penetrated, they believe themselves to be more vulnerable to suitcase bombs than to truck bombs.”–From the July 1997 GAO report “Combating Terrorism.”

Selective Starvation

“The combination of self-imposed defense spending limits, the spiraling cost of overseas contingency operations, and the need to maintain forces subject to deployment at high rates of readiness has resulted once again in major funding shortfalls throughout other portions of the defense budget.

The committee notes that subsequent to transmittal of the President’s budget, the military services identified high-priority, unfunded shortfalls for Fiscal Year 1998 totaling nearly $11 billion. In addition, the Secretary of Defense has called to the committee’s attention nearly $1.5 billion in additional unbudgeted Fiscal Year 1998 requirements involving defense health care, missile defense and chemical/biological defenses, and a sizable shortage in funding for flying-hour support and related spare parts. Running the gamut from quality of life programs, medical care, training and operating budgets, and weapons modernization and research programs, the Fiscal Year 1998 defense budget submission demonstrably falls short of meeting both the immediate and long-term requirements of the US armed forces.”–House Appropriations Committee, in its July 22, 1997, report on Fiscal 1998 defense appropriations.

Now You Know

“In November 1954, CIA had entered into the world of high technology with its U-2 overhead reconnaissance project. … The agency by August 1955 was testing a high-altitude experimental aircraft–the U-2. It could fly at 60,000 feet; in the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. Consequently, once the U-2 started test flights, commercial pilots and air traffic controllers began reporting a large increase in UFO sightings.

“The early U-2s were silver (they were later painted black) and reflected the rays from the sun, especially at sunrise and sunset. They often appeared as fiery objects to observers below. Air Force Blue Book investigators, aware of the secret U-2 flights, tried to explain away such sightings by linking them to natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions. By checking with the agency’s U-2 Project Staff in Washington, Blue Book investigators were able to attribute many UFO sightings to U-2 flights. …

“According to later estimates from CIA officials who worked on the U-2 project and the Oxcart (SR-71, or Blackbird) project, over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights (namely the U-2) over the United States.”–From “CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947­90,” an article published in the spring 1997 issue of Studies in Intelligence, the CIA’s historical journal.

Post Cold War Blues

“We’re looking at the full collapse of the armed forces and the liquidation of the country’s defense capabilities. They [Russian military units] don’t fly; they don’t sail; they don’t train. … There are a lot of problems, but the main problem is [a lack of] money.”–Retired Russian Gen. Igor Rodionov, a former minister of defense, at an Aug. 5, 1997, Moscow news conference called by a group of former generals opposed to planned military reforms.